After I say goodbye to my brother, we head off South towards threatening skies. We have driven into the teeth of some big storms in Minnesota, the kind that land like eggs exploding the drops are so large. And we hit a couple more of these biggies today.
Later, still in Missouri, we’re cruising along, road veterans at this point. All is quiet but the roads are slick and running from recent rains. And then, out of the blue, I experience our first near death experience on the trip.
We’re in the middle of nowhere, green rolling hills, trees and young corn. An entrance merges from the right and there are two vehicles, a dump truck in front and a red pick up behind. I can tell I won’t get ahead of the dumper, so I slow a bit to let him in and the red truck pulls in behind me. The dump truck is going slow, say, 45.
I signal and pull out to pass him—I don’t get to pass many vehicles so this is a special moment—after checking that the red truck is still behind me. I let guys who want to go fast have their way because while I will pass this big truck it will take a few seconds and it seems that many drivers don’t have a few seconds to spare.
Just as I take the left lane to pass—and bear in mind there are no visible vehicles ahead or behind us, just we three drivers—the red truck pulls into the left lane, right behind, I mean, right behind me. I am about a foot from starting the pass of the big dump truck, tire splash hitting my windshield, my pass won’t take long, and I figure the red truck will see that and back off, seems too late to give him the lane, but instead he lays on his horn—he’s behind me still—and pulls right on my bumper and then tries to pass ME on the left. This isn’t some wide highway, nice one sure, but there is definitely not enough room for the three of us. I ease over as close to the back corner of the dump truck as I can because this guy is really trying to pass me by driving THROUGH me. He’s pissed, maybe because I’m from California? Maybe he has… Oh, who cares, I’m just making stuff up, I just know he’s going to kill us, so I ease off on the gas slightly, so red truck doesn’t smash into the back corner of the bus and jerk in behind the dumper by about an eighth of an inch, thank god he didn’t take his foot off the gas but just maintained his speed. The red truck thunders by.
Heart pounding, I back off and check that no one is around and do the pass, noticing that the red truck wasn’t in some huge hurry, he’s only moving away a few miles per hour faster than I will be going.
I breathe and there is no road rage desire to run him down because, well, I wouldn’t be able to.
Later, I notice that I think less about this incident than I did of the a-hole in the bakery in North Dakota. The echo takes just a few minutes. Ah, the ways of the human mind. Perhaps I am growing up.
We arrive at Natural Falls State Park in Oklahoma and it is lovely. Truly, lovely. I never see the falls, I just see the campground and all the people seem very friendly and Michelle is into afternoon wailing and I apologize and tell my next-door neighbors in an RV that she will settle down in the evening, hoping that it is so. It’s pretty bad, her sundowning this day, and the driveway is ideal for walking so that helps a bit.
I am glad to be camping again after so many days with friends and family. The Bus seems happy too, fulfilling its purpose. No need for the tent that I can see, one of us will sleep outside on the cot, one in the bus.
The day is perfect in every way and Mo meets many dogs. They have no idea he was recently shorn, and he doesn’t seem to notice either. I talk for a while with the camp host and he knows Alzheimer’s and gives me encouraging words. And I meet a man who is there with a large group out of Tulsa. This gay men’s group books many sites annually and this is their meeting weekend, and they have a great evening of laughter and music.
He tells me the next morning they were concerned they would keep me awake. He asks me if she, Michelle, was an actress or something. I am stunned. How would he know that? “I just thought there was something about her.” Wow. I tell him Michelle’s stage name, Morain, and that there is some stuff on the internet.
The next day I ask him if he will just keep an eye on Michelle for a moment. She is standing in the parking way eating cereal. He says sure and I run off for a few minutes. When I come back, he is all smiles. He found her on the Web and looks at her with new eyes.
Later, As we are ready to drive away, he calls out, “Hey, are you riders on the storm bus?!” I nod and he says, “I’m following!”
The trip score is A-holes 2, good people 100.